The reaction in the Magic media room when Adam Silver announced the Magic had drafted Romero Osby with the 51st pick in the NBA Draft, there was a collective shrug and some questions of "Who is he?" Sure, Steve Kyler and Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld had raised the possibility of the Magic (or any team) selecting him in the second round.
They appeared to be right and raved about the hard work he had put in to get noticed. And it is most likely this work ethic (just like with Victor Oladipo) that caught Rob Hennigan and the Magic's eye.
It should not have been lost that while Oladipo was wearing a suit and was all smiles after being selected with the second overall pick, Osby was wearing a Magic warmup shirt. He could very well have been fresh from the practice court — if it were not being used for a season ticketholder fantasy basketball camp.
Like Oladipo, Osby is not a finished project. He has cut his teeth in the college doing the little things and doing the most with his talent. In other words, just what the Magic are looking for in a young player, even with a long shot at making the roster.
"I'm a team-first guy. I'm all about the Orlando Magic now just like I was about the University of Oklahoma," Osby said. "I'm more accustomed to going out there and fighting for my teammates every night. Listening to coach, whatever coach wants me to do. Whatever position he wants me to play, I'll play it.
"[I am] somebody who is strong enough to guard bigger players, and can move his feet and guard quicker players as well, and rebounding aspect to the game and able to score the ball in different ways. It's something I know I can bring to the team."
That does about describe Osby.
He is listed at 6-foot-7 but plays more like a power forward, using his athleticism around the basket to get rebounds and score at the college level. He definitely looks like a powerful and strong guy. The versatility to potentially get out to the perimeter and guard multiple positions is enticing.
There are still the shortcomings. Osby is the definition of a tweener and his jump shooting oculd use improvement and more confidence.
The Good: Osby said it during his press conference Friday. He knows what he is good at and he knows what he is bad at. He knows what he is capable of doing and what he still needs to work on. This is always an important realization for a young player coming onto a new team.
Osby became a much better and more efficient scorer after transferring to Oklahoma from Mississippi State. Last season, he averaged 16.0 points per game on 52.6 percent shooting. He also grabbed 7.0 rebounds per game for the Sooners.
Undoubtedly, Osby has lots of skill. He showed a ton of athleticism and an ability to get to the basket particularly when in transition. He is a strong player in the post against the smaller competition in college.
Already from college, Osby is a bit of a grinder. Every team needs guys like that. He will not do much that is flashy but, like he and others have said after the pick, Osby knows what he does well and sticks to that. Understanding your role on a team is as key as anything for a guy selected this late in the second round.
The Bad: Osby is the definition of a tweener. There is no other way to describe him adequately. At 6-foot-8, Osby does not quite have the height to be a NBA power forward. However, that is where most of his scoring and work came from at the college ranks. Osby does not have the shooting ability to play small forward for long stretches.
In Osby's collegiate career, he was 40 for 102 from beyond the arc. That is 39.2 percent but also comes out to less than one attempt per game. Osby is not much of a shooter and got most of his scoring done around the rim. His 3-point attempts did not increase as his career progressed at both Mississippi State and Oklahoma.
It is tough envisioning Osby playing much small forward at the NBA level, even if he can occassionally get out on the wing and defend. Being an undersized power forward, Osby still has a lot of work to do too.
If you look undersized power forwards throughout league history, they are usually tireless rebounders. They are able to use their athleticism or their basketball knowledge to hit the glass hard and defend. The jury might be out on Osby's defense, but his rebounding numbers do not encourage. He averaged 7.0 rebounds per game last year and a career-best 8.2 percent offensive rebound rate and a career-best 19.4 percent defensive rebound rate.
Those are not elite numbers for a player who started every game for the Sooners at power forward. It is hard to find exactly what Osby excels at to make you think he would be a successful power forward at the next level. More determination and growth will be needed from him.
Draft Sites Say:
NBADraft.net: "Versatile forward who can face-up and scores well near the basket … Got to the line at a good rate and made his FT attempts at an almost 80% clip as a senior … Showed improvement on the defensive glass throughout his time in college.
"Undersized for a PF … Lacking lateral and straight line quickness to defend forwards effectively at the pro level … Did not do much offensively out of the pick and roll."
Final Word: Osby will have his opportunity to work hard and make this young Magic roster. He has shown some improvement in a lot of areas and his versatility is something the Magic value. Osby though has a steep learning curve to make up. He will have to learn to play more small forward or bulk up and be a better power forward option. That means he will have to improve his rebounding numbers and his defense or lighten up, use his athleticism and get more comfortable taking 3-point shots. It really sucks being a tweener, but that is exactly where Osby will be and he will have to find a way to use the skills from both worlds to make his way.